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Thurston County Activities Related to Climate Change


Climate change has become a household phrase as the world struggles with the threat of a warming planet. Washington State is particularly vulnerable to climate change, because our economy depends largely on natural resources. Tourists from around the world come to Washington to witness the splendor of our environment, and employers bring businesses and jobs here because they know they can attract top-notch workers who are willing to relocate to "The Evergreen State." Snow pack from the mountains feeds our rivers, generates hydroelectricity, and replenishes the aquifers that supply our drinking water. Our 3,000 miles of coastline and the coastal communities that thrive on the shores are particularly vulnerable to a rise in sea levels – including communities in Thurston County.

Know the Facts

Many opposing opinions about climate change spread through media and word of mouth. With so many confusing messages it is important to stay informed of the scientific research being done right now to answer your questions. Fortunately we have one of the world’s leading climate change research teams right here in Washington state: the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group. The Climate Impacts Group produces up-to-date information about projected effects of climate change on Washington state, and can answer many questions you may have about climate science.

Thurston County staff have also incorporated climate impacts into plans and documents. Thurston County Public Health and Social Services have studied the public health impacts of climate change. The Thurston County Planning Department has recently completed a greenhouse gas inventory of all county operations, which resulted in the passing of a resolution that lays the groundwork for the county’s pathway to zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant

Thurston County has received $849,200 in federal grant money for projects that reduce energy use, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency. The grants are funded through the “Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant” program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant program is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thurston County Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy

Thurston County’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy is comprised of 4 Elements designed to combat climate change on several fronts. The plan includes strategies to make Thurston County government buildings and operations more energy-efficient, as well as promote energy-efficiency in new construction, land-use, transportation, and the management of natural resources within unincorporated areas of the county.

Element #1: Capital Improvement Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Program
Retrofitting county buildings to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Element #2: Green Building and Development Program
Amending Thurston County’s development code will ensure greater energy savings for owners and occupants of new residential and commercial construction.

Element #3: Thurston County Climate and Sustainability Program
By measuring greenhouse gas emissions and determining the most beneficial ways to avoid them Thurston County will recommend new policies that guide land-use, transportation, and natural resource management while continuing on its own pathway to zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Element #4: Courthouse Lighting Retrofit Project
By replacing lighting in four of the courthouse buildings Thurston County will realize significant energy savings.

Thurston County's In-House Sustainability Efforts

  • A Pathway to Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Thurston County is proud to pass this resolution stating the county’s commitment to a pathway to zero greenhouse gas emissions in all county government operations.
  • Sustainability Policy - Thurston County's sustainability policy includes guidelines for environmentally preferable purchasing and the efficient use of energy in county operations. County departments also participate in a comprehensive in-house recycling program.
  • Sustainability Report - The county produces extensive annual sustainability reports covering many topics, from purchasing to energy use and more.

Home Weatherization Opportunities

Hundreds of Thurston County residents are saving money and energy by weatherizing their homes and businesses. Find out how you can get involved by contacting these local non-profit organizations.thurston energy logo

  • Thurston Energy connects businesses and middle-income homeowners with pre-screened energy evaluation professionals. Participants receive a list of locally approved installers of energy efficient products, and get help finding grants, rebates and tax incentives for upgrades. Thurston County is proud to be working with this program, which is a joint project of the Thurston Climate Action Team and the Thurston Economic Development Council.
  • The Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties offers a program to address some of the minor home repair needs of low-income individuals and families. A combination of funds are used to perform minor home repairs on homes receiving weatherization retrofits.

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